How to shop for Car Rentals

Drivers of rental cars in Canada and USA have to show drivers licenses and qualify for car insurance. Each USA state or Canadian Province has their own laws, statutes or criteria for driving licenses and car insurance. Many companies will not rent to drivers under the age of 25. Some have extra deposit or extra insurance requirements for drivers under the age of 25.

There are several different car rentals sizes and classes available:
economy, compact, mid size, full size 3 door, full size 4 door, luxury sedan, sports cars, 7 passenger van, 9 to 16 passenger vans and 4 wheel drive vehicles.

Since the price of gasoline is now more expensive than the price of the car rental it is important to rent the smallest car that can safely fulfill your travel requirements. Choose a car that can comfortably seat the number of passengers in the class of car you are used to.

Car rental time contracts include 4 hour, half day, day, week end specials, 3 and 4 day specials, 7 day week, month, six month, year, two and three year rentals.

There are about 12 large international companies, several regional companies and local car rental companies that offer rental cars.

I once had a situation where I had to travel for 1 day by car then go on a seven day cruise and then travel by car for one day. The small local car rental companies would not rent the car for 1 day or allow a drop-off at a different location. A large multi-national car rental company did have this facility. I paid an extra $40. for the two, one day car rentals. This was great as I did not have to pay for the seven days that I was on the cruise ship.

The majority of car rental locations are at airports and financial centers. In general you will find that the financial center locations offer week-end special prices and the airport locations offer the seven day special prices.

Some car rental companies offer reward programs offering discounts or bonus programs based on repeat car rental use.

Some credit cards offer rental car insurance discounts or coverage. Holders must confirm what insurance applies to each contract.

Some hotel chains, airlines and web portals offer volume discounts for car rentals and they can be obtained on-site, through newspaper or broadcast or internet feeds.

Many organizations offer membership rewards offering discounts for car rentals. They can be for company employees, volunteer organizations special interest groups, trade or industry associations, retirement or church clubs.

There are now three cooperative organizations who offer fractional timeshare rental cars. You can rent a share of a car which entitles you to a set number of hours of use per month. If you only need a rental car for a few hours every week - this may be your best option.

When shopping for car rentals always compare the prices on-site with print, broadcast and internet prices. You can sometimes find three different prices for the same car during the same period. When negotiating have all the price information available. Some car rental agencies will price match. If there is a better price for the same car and rental conditions from a competitor - bring it into the negotiation - you may be offered the same price.

My 2006, 10 day driving holiday from Toronto to Lake Placid, Boston, Cape Cod, Nantucket, Martha Vineyard, Rhode Island, Thousand Islands, Kingston and back to Toronto was with a car rental. I combined a special in-store walk-in 3 day weekend price with a special 7 day internet offer and saved about 45% off of the regular daily car rental rate. My car rental cost dropped from $550 to under $300.

Look for the ESL in Canada "How to shop for the best prices" Seminars.

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